The Reproduction of Rabbits Essay

This essay has a total of 2587 words and 10 pages.

The Reproduction of Rabbits

Rabbits are one of the oldest known animals to exist. Rabbits appear in so many places in
our history. In fact, these animals are so old that geologists have proved them to date
back 30 or 40 million years. Perhaps, the most well known on appearance in history is the
legend of the Easter Bunny. This legend is so well known and so well loved by children
everywhere, that it is safe to say that the rabbit is a considerably important part of our
history. This fact alone proves that the rabbit deserves our attention.

The rabbit is well known throughout the history of mankind. The Romans, at one time,
thought that rabbit meat contributed to the beauty of Roman women. Fortunately they were
correct. French monks of the middle ages also raised rabbits as meat for food and their
fur for their robes. Both of these cultures enjoyed eating the unborn rabbit. Early Norman
raiders introduced rabbits to England. Here, they were first caught with rabbits, and
then, as rabbit hunting became a sport, they were hunted by ladies with bows and arrows
and dogs.

There are also many artifacts in history that include the rabbit. For example, a sphinx in
Turkey, built in 1500 B.C., has been standing on the figures of two rabbits for about 3500
years. There are numerous superstitions and legends pertaining to rabbits. The Emperor of
the Balearic Islands, Hadarian, appears on coins of that era along with the rabbit. There
is no doubt that rabbits are important to our history and deserve our attention.

It is hard to say where the rabbit was originally domesticated because there are so many
accounts of this occurrence in so many countries, but it is generally accepted that the
Phoenicians (traders from Spain) must receive credit for spreading the domestic rabbit
throughout the world. There has also been much debate as to what order the rabbit should
belong to. It seems that rabbits have cause much confusion for mankind throughout history.

Rabbits were once placed in the order of Rodentia. However, scientists soon noted that
rabbits had many anatomical differences from rodents. The largest and most significant one
being tooth structure. Rabbits were then given their own order. This is the order of
Lagomorpha. This order is further divided into two smaller groups. They are Leporidae,
which is made up of rabbits and hares, and Ochotonidae, containing only the small rock
rabbit, the pika. the Leporidae is divided even further into three more groups: Lepus,
this includes hares, Sylvilagus, the American cottontail, and Oryctolagus.

Rabbits are mammals with long ears and short tails. They are often characterized by their
helpless offspring. (They are helpless because they are born without hair and with closed
eyes.) Rabbits are also considered social animals because they generally live in large
colonies in underground burrows. (The only exception to this is the North American
Cottontail.) They have a life span of approximately ten years and feed on herbs, tree bark
and vegetables. Wild rabbits prefer to live where there is an abundance of loose soil and
brush to offer them shelter.

Domesticated rabbits are rather different from wild rabbits though. The domestic rabbit is
a direct descendent of the wild European rabbit, but is an entirely different species from
the cottontails. There are at least 66 known varieties of this species. Of these 66
varieties approximately 50 of them are recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders
Association (ARBA). They vary in color, coat, size, and style of ears.

After knowing a brief history on rabbits, the next thing to consider is the proper housing
and care of a rabbit. There are some basic requirements that must be met for housing a
rabbit, regardless of where a person lives. The housing must be comfortable, yet it must
confine them. It must protect them from the weather, but not be too expensive to the
owner. Also, the housing should always provide easy access for the owner and be easily
cleaned. If the owner does not meet these requirements, it is certain that he will not
succeed.

To make sure that the cage is comfortable for the rabbit, several things must be kept in
mind. The first is the size. A rule of thumb by rabbit breeders is to allow 3/4 square
foot of floor area for each pound of mature weight. The second thing to remember is to
make sure that the pen will not injure the rabbit. There should not be any sharp edges, or
rough floors. If there are, they should be removed or sanded. The final thing to keep in
mind is that the housing must allow plenty of fresh air and ventilation. The rabbits
should get direct sunlight, and the level of ammonia should be kept as low as possible.
(Ammonia becomes a problem because rabbits urine contains a compound called urea. This
reacts to water, forming ammonia gas.) These factors must always be kept in mind.

There are several types of housing for rabbits. The first factor that one must decide is
whether or not he wants to house his rabbits inside or outside. Outdoor housing is
generally less expensive, and it provides better ventilation for the rabbits. However,
there is little protection from weather and predators in outdoor housing. Housing the
rabbits outside also provides difficulty in regulating the amount of light that the
rabbits will receive. While indoor housing solves all of the above mentioned problems
along with better efficiency, it also is much more costly, and it is difficult to control
the temperature and the humidity of the rabbitry.

The second factor that one must consider, is the type of pens to use. Wire cages are the
most popular kind to use for indoor housing. Wire cages are easy to clean and are very
durable. Droppings and urine fall through the floor into a dropping pan that can simply be
dumped out every week. Also, the feeders do not steal any of the cage space from the
rabbit. The downfall though, of course, is the cost. Wire cages are usually very
expensive.

The most popular kind of housing for outdoor use is the wooden and wire combination hutch.
These hutches generally have wire floors and/or wire sides. The downfall of using wood
though, is that rabbits tend to gnaw on it. The manager should make sure that the rabbits
cannot chew on the wood, and pressure treat it as well. This will protect the hutch from
weather and decay. Wood also absorbs urine, which will be difficult to clean out, and will
create a foul odor.

The daily care of a rabbit may seem very long at first and tedious, but it is not
difficult. The manager must always check the water dish and the food dish to be certain
that the rabbit has enough of both. Also, the first signs of failing health is the refusal
to drink or eat. The manager must also check the droppings from the rabbits. He may find
that the rabbits have diarrhea, which is the cause of death for many rabbits, especially
young ones. Checking it's eyes, ears, nose, teeth, feet, coat, and general demeanor are
important. Only the individual manager knows what is the normal behavior for his rabbit.
The owner must also be sure to keep the nails trimmed short and manageable. These
responsibilities may appear to be a very long and annoying task at first, but they soon
become routine, and quick. They also will prove to be very important for anyone who breeds
any kind of animal. (ShowBunny 1-3)

The next thing one must do is choose his rabbits. Choosing the right rabbit can be a
difficult task. There are numerous accepted breeds, and all are adorable. However, the
buyer must always remember to select a rabbit better suited for himself. He must take into
consideration the climate of his area and the laws in the ordinance in which he lives. The
first decision to be made is for what purpose is the person choosing to breed rabbits.
There are five basic fields for which rabbits are bred. They are meat and fur production,
wool production, laboratory purposes, pets, and exhibition. The next step is choosing the
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